Clarity Can Be Sinister
copyright 2004, by
These characters were created by Thomas
Harris. They are used herein without permission, but in the spirit of
admiration and respect. No infringement of copyright is intended, and no
profit, of any kind, is made by the creator, maintainer or contributors to this
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Clarice Starling crept through the dark, her footsteps light and carefully placed. The sky was cloudy and concealed the moon so that she was almost completely blind, save the small pinpoint of light ahead of her. Slowly she came to the edge of the window, and standing in the soft garden bed, she peered inside.
A tall figure crossed the room to a leather armchair and sat down, placing a glass of some sort of wine on the table beside him. His face was illuminated by the gentle light of a candelabra, the flames of each candle gently licking his face. He rested his head back against the armchair and closed his eyes, lost in the serenity of the music.
Clarice realised her mouth had gone dry.
Having followed him home, meticulous in her method so as to give away nothing of her presence, Clarice Starling had to know that it really was him, and not some look-alike. Nor that she was imagining it. It was by a chance encounter that she’d caught a glimpse of him in the streets. But so close to her home! It had crossed her mind that he was likely planning some encounter between them. His audacity and courage was admirable. If she were in his position, this would be the last place she’d be.
‘And the last place I’d look, too.’ She thought to herself.
The CD ended, and Dr Lecter had not moved. The silence felt so heavy that Clarice was worried she’d give herself away by just breathing. She felt frozen to the spot, unable to move. Strangely, she felt no fear of him, rather she didn’t want to wake him and have him leave her again. She would have him incarcerated and visit him. She would stay with him and hold his hand in his cell. But she couldn’t be without him. Not again.
Clarice waited a little longer to make certain he was sleeping. Then gathering her courage she moved from the window to the front door. Squinting in the darkness she saw an old brass knob, and tentatively reached out a hand to grab it. She then ran her other hand over the door. It felt like an old oak door, the kind found in heritage list houses restored to their former glory. Which meant it may not have a difficult lock. He held her breath and turned the knob.
‘Or any lock at all,’ she thought with a smile. The door opened soundlessly. Clarice crept inside, shutting the door behind her so the doctor would not see the door ajar and detect her presence, should he wake. The small amount of light from the sitting room which reached this part of the house increased visibility a little. Clarice sensed the house had very high ceilings. In fact the sense of space in this mansion made her feel vulnerable, even though she was the trespasser. She crept across the hallway and peered around the corner.
Dr. Hannibal Lecter was still in his chair. The glass of wine was almost empty. There was a leather-bound book beside the glass face down and open where his reading had been interrupted. He was as still as death. Clarice had to stare hard at his chest to assure herself it was maintaining its respiratory rhythm. Satisfied, she stepped out of her hiding place and closed the distance between them.
Clarice caught her breath as she took pleasure in his full form. There he was, inches from her touch, sleeping peacefully, his long legs stretched out in front of him, his hands folded across his stomach. Thrilled, a momentary shiver arced up and down her spine. It was awesome to watch him like this, as he had once done in her home, the tables having turned in her favour. Every rhythm of his shallow breath giving testament to the living breathing psychiatrist-killer in front of her, who had once reached into the depths of her insanity and rescued her at great risk to himself.
Reaching a hand out, she wanted to touch him. She wanted to caress his face. She wanted to entwine her fingers with his, to show him that her shoes had improved, that she was no longer afraid when she was with him. She wanted to converse with him about all manner of topics, not psychology so much, but a real intelligent conversation. She wanted to experience opera and art with him, to show him the things she loved, to explore culture-rich cities around the world with the man she…with the man she…
Clarice closed her eyes, biting her lip.
With the man she adored.
Her fingers were centimetres from his skin. Clarice retracted her hand. Now was too soon, not to mention the almost unforgivable invasion of privacy. Instead, she retracted her hand and straightened, taking him in whole for one last time tonight. Without turning she backed away slowly, extra careful not to bump into any furniture. As her slender form slunk deep into the shadows, she kissed the tips of her fingers on one hand and held them out to him. Slowly the last of her disappeared.
*        *        *        *
Dr. Lecter woke grinning, the pinpoints of his maroon eyes spinning like pinwheels. A barely audible utterance left his lips, an utterance only for his gratification. His favourite word.
He had been awake the whole time.
He smelled the scent of her hair.
He heard the ragged and often irregular intonation of her breathing, the breathing of one excited and pleased by what they saw.
He sensed her fingers almost touch him and then retract.
By no means did the kiss she sent him from across the room go unnoticed.
The panther rose and strode gracefully and powerfully to the window where he watched her disappear through the woods surrounding the house.
“Tsk Tsk Tsk. It won’t do.”
Dr Lecter looked at his watch. If he hurried he could beat her home. Yes, that’s where she would find him. He was certain her friend Ardelia was gone for the week on a field assignment.
This unexpected visit certainly curtailed his carefully designed plans for them both, endearing as it was. It left him in no doubt of her intentions. The qualification on that was whether it meant his liberty or incarceration. The latter was insupportable, as intoxicating as she was.
He would have to improvise.
The doctor made a few quick preparations before stepping out the front door.
Yesss…. He smiled, barely containing his glee.
He would be waiting for her.
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